Cold and Windy, with a 100% Chance of Victory

I’ve been advised that dwindling attendance at Petco Park shouldn’t worry me. This, of course, only worries me more. It’s early, and this may all be in my head, but I don’t think so.

The ballpark was dead (heck, the entire Gaslamp was dead) on Tuesday night. It’s possible that 20,825 bought tickets, but there’s no way that many attended the game — not even close.

Granted, conditions were miserable by San Diego standards, but it would have been nice to see a little support for the home club in the season’s second game. This team won 89 games last year, and yet, everywhere I turn, people are telling me how crappy the Padres are. Sure, most of them are just regurgitating what someone else told them, but after a while, people start to believe this nonsense.

Attendance, Games 1 and 2 of Season
Year Game 1 Game 2 Diff
Statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.
Qualcomm Stadium
2000 60,021 19,035 -68.3
2001 61,277 50,149 -18.2
2002 59,103 43,861 -25.8
2003 61,707 50,605 -18.0
Petco Park
2004 41,400 41,625 +0.5
2005 43,538 39,791 -8.6
2006 43,767 23,721 -45.8
2007 44,267 40,504 -8.5
2008 44,965 20,825 -53.7

Anyway, I represented last night. That’s more than most San Diegans can claim.

As for the game, Chris Young‘s final line looks decent, but don’t be fooled. His inefficiency has been well documented, and on Tuesday, he added to the legend, throwing 112 pitches in 5 2/3 innings and going to three-ball counts on 8 of the 27 batters he faced. The Astros failed to capitalize on Young’s poor command, pushing across just one run in the sixth — on a bases-loaded walk issued by Joe Thatcher.

One thing Young did well — and the box score won’t tell you this — is control the running game. Sure, gazelle Michael Bourn swiped second in the fifth inning, but Young held him close and gave Josh Bard a fighting chance. Bard, perhaps accustomed to rushing his throws, bounced this one and Tadahito Iguchi couldn’t come up with the ball. Bourn was safe, but the play was much closer than I’d expected.

Other notes from Section 307:

  • Adrian Gonzalez crushed a ball to center in the fourth inning. For the second time in as many nights, it died along the warning track and came to rest in Bourn’s glove. (Bourn, for the record, looks like a terrific defender in center. He’s been getting great jumps, and even when he started the wrong way on a drive off the bat of Brian Giles in the seventh, Bourn managed to recover in time to make a nice grab near the wall.)
  • Speaking of center field, Scott Hairston got a better test with Young on the mound and he mostly passed. He and Giles didn’t communicate real well on a ball hit by Bourn to start the game, but after that, Hairston took charge. I count six putouts on my scorecard.
  • Hairston also smoked a two-run homer to left that accounted for all the Padres’ scoring, but we already know the guy can hit, so I don’t have much to say about that beyond “nice job.”
  • Some sloppy baserunning could have (but didn’t) cost the Padres. In the first inning, Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a fly ball to medium center. For some reason, with Gonzalez on deck, Iguchi felt the urge to test Bourn’s arm. Iguchi tagged up and was out by plenty at second. My scorecard reads “8-6 DP WTF?” Then in the eighth, Hairston got picked off rounding third base to end the inning after Paul McAnulty had beat out an infield single.
  • Speaking of Kouz, I know it’s only two games, but I’m loving his approach at the plate. He got into hitters’ counts every time up on Tuesday and hit the ball hard twice toward the middle of the diamond. People don’t realize how good he is, and as long as he plays in San Diego, that will continue to be true, which is fine as long as he continues to be that good. ;-)
  • Cla Meredith faced two batters and retired both on grounders to second. He also destroyed one of Carlos Lee’s bats in the process. I think Lee is still trying to figure out how that pitch got in on him so quickly.
  • Trevor Hoffman clearly has nothing left in the tank. Ask Lance Berkman, who waved at two changeups in the dirt to end the contest. You may be familiar with Berkman’s work as one of the planet’s best hitters. And the hit Trevor allowed? A slow roller wide of the bag at first that Hunter Pence legged out for a single. It was vicious.

Rock on…